Friday, December 14, 2012

The Trip Home, CLU Football and a Homecoming

The flights from Lyon to Los Angeles via Madrid and Chicago were long but interesting.

It started bright and early on Wednesday when Falcon TE Geoff Moulton picked me up at about 5:20 a.m. to drive me to Lyon's St-Exupéry Airport. Rather than sleeping on Tuesday night, I pulled an all-nighter watching TV, reading, packing and straightening up The Villa so that I would have a better chance of sleeping on the three flights.

It worked.

Fortunately, the Lyon airport is relatively small and very easy to maneuver so early in the day. It only took me about ten minutes to get my boarding pass and sail through Security with the lack of crowds. My only hitch, and it was a big one, was being told that my flight from Madrid to Chicago had been cancelled. I was instructed to talk to the people at the Iberia Airlines desk when I got to Madrid and that they would re-route me.


The immediate answer to this problem was simple as usual, a café and a croissant.

I felt much better.

Our Air Nostrum pilot announced over the plane's public address system, "We will be pulling away from the terminal on time in about five minutes just as soon as our maintenance people finish de-icing our wings."

Did we really need to know that?

I slept for most of the hour and 50 minute flight to Spain's capital which was a good thing.

Once in Madrid, I hustled to the Iberia Airline's help desk to find out that my flight to Chicago had not been cancelled.


I passed my layover time enjoying a delicious bocadillo (sandwich) made of jamon iberico and queso (Spanish ham and cheese). Washing it down with a tasty Spanish fresh squeezed orange juice was nice too.

My luck was in full force on this flight. I had my desired aisle seat and was seated for about ten minutes awaiting the takeoff for the nine hour and 30 minute flight to Chicago. It was then that a stewardess with an angelic face came up to me and said that she had a seat in the back of the plane that might be a bit more to my liking.


This wonderful woman led me to this aisle seat with NO SEAT IN FRONT OF IT!

This added leg room made the trans-Atlantic flight a great deal more pleasurable to say the least.

My new seat was right next to one of the plane's rear restrooms which was convenient to me and provided some interesting drama to the flight as well. A young man/knucklehead sitting two rows in front of me opted to use said restroom as his own private smoking lounge!

The smoke alarm went off, seemingly every flight attendant descended upon our culprit, read him the riot act and took his passport.

Welcome to Chicago my friend.

Chicago's O'Hare Airport

They tried to make the Strasbourg Christmas Market proud.

I had been told in Madrid by the Iberia Airline people that American Airlines, who would take me from Chicago to Los Angeles, had assigned me a middle seat. Again I was advised to check with the American Airlines customer service desk to see if I could get it changed to an aisle seat.

Now, O'Hare Airport is one of the busiest hub airports in the world and today was typical with long, long, long lines everywhere I looked.

Adding to the problem was a plane from Frankfort, Germany that had been forced down in Chicago due to mechanical issues before reaching their Los Angeles destination.

It was at this point that I spied an American Airlines worker named Susan who was standing on the concourse answering people's questions and directing them to the proper line. I explained to her my desire to just see about changing seats and was fully prepared to wait in line as I had a two hour and 30 minute layover.

Amazingly, Susan was transformed before my very eyes to Saint Susan, the Patron Saint of Air Travel. She just walked me over to an unused computer terminal, and not only quickly moved my seat to the aisle, she gave me a bulkhead row seat where the bulkhead wall ends just before it gets to my seat.


Los Angeles International Airport

Also trying to meet Strasbourg's high standards at Christmas.

My beloved bride Laurie was there waiting for me. She whisked me away to Camarillo on a traffic free evening straight to Cronie's Sports Grill for a high protein salad to bring my long day to a close.

It was good to be home.

Thursday morning EuroBall Talk

I had contacted highly successful CLU Head Football Coach Ben McEnroe a few weeks ago about setting up our annual meeting with any and all of his Seniors about extending their playing careers in EuroBall.

The Kingsmen have won the four SCIAC championships in Ben's six years at the helm. These four titles have all come in the last four seasons (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012).

They have some very good football players at CLU that would be a perfect fit for any EuroBall team looking to upgrade their roster.

The Seven CLU Seniors in attendance

This was a good group who paid attention and asked great questions. I hope that they get a chance to enjoy the EuroBall experience after graduation.

A special thank you to CLU assistant coach Geno Sullivan for helping with all of the logistics that made this session successful.

In the evening, Mike, Vanessa and Jacob came over to our house for dinner.

Laurie and Jacob

"Your Honor, I am 100% innocent of
all of these trumped up charges!"

A Genetic Contreras Family Trait

I think that it was foie gras.

Me and Jacob

It is good to be home.

Andy, Jenn and Kevin arrive in town from Las Vegas on Saturday. This is going to be a fun weekend!

1 comment:

steveswindle said...

If you need a little help with recruiting for EuroBall, I will gladly help since I actually played over there!!!